Dozens of Dallas County mail-in ballots to be reviewed by forensics center

Criminal investigation of voter fraud claims in North Texas

DALLAS – Workers in the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office are describing the volume of complaints about questionable mail-in ballots as “off the charts.”

A team of investigators is looking into criminal and voter fraud allegations involving the May 6 election.

“It’s totally frustrating,” said Dr. Pat Stephens of West Dallas. “You know, we all feel violated.”

Stephens is speaking out. She is still bothered about her signature being forged on an mail-in ballot application.

She's among the 60 to 90 Dallas residents who investigators say have come forward over the past month, saying they received mail-in ballots which they did not request.

Stephens says red flags were raised when a suspicious man came to her home, saying he worked for Dallas County and wanted to pick up the ballot.

"I got a knock on my door and the guy was saying that he was coming to pick up the mail-in ballots and I told him, 'Well I didn’t order one,'" she tells WFAA.

“Our forefathers fought for us to have this privilege, and for somebody to come along at take it away from us," she continued.

The probe is beyond frustrating, not only for residents. It's also keeping District Attorney Faith Johnson's staff busy.

"There have been persistent rumors of voter fraud and messing around with mail-in ballots for years. But to the extent that I’ve been involved in Dallas County, this is off the charts," Assistant District Attorney Andy Chatham said.

Chatham works with the DA’s Public Integrity Unit. That team is looking into the hundreds of mail-in ballots which a judge initially sequestered last week. The ballots in question could impact numbers in May 6 races, including Dallas County City Council Districts 2 and 6, the City of Grand Prairie, and at least one Dallas ISD trustees race.

Monday morning, Chatham requested an emergency hearing asking the court to unseal the hold on two batches of mail-in ballots. About 40 of those documents were canceled out when some complaining voters went to polling sites to cast provisional ballots. Those mail-in ballots are being sent to the Southwest Institute of Forensic Science for review.

"They’ll be opened. They’ll be examined. They’ll be looked at to make a determination whether or not they comport to the election code or whether or not they become actual ballots to be counted," Chatham explained.

As Dallas County elections staff members continue their work authenticating each mail-in ballot, the evidence will remain under the court’s control.

"What matters to me is getting the ballots, looking at them, and finding evidence of fraud. Finding evidence of wrongdoing, and then finding out who is responsible for that," Chatham said.

Dallas County Elections Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole said her office is busy authenticating mail-in ballots and applications. She says 733 mail-in ballots are included in the two batches involved in the court order.

Pippins-Poole says a signature verification committee will examine the ballots. If a ballot is approved, the vote will be added. If any of the ballots are rejected, those voters will receive a notice.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Rep. Eric Johnson issued this joint statement after this story aired: 

“We are pleased with the actions taken thus far by both the Dallas County Elections Department and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office to investigate suspected voter fraud in West Dallas and elsewhere in the county. We believe one disenfranchised voter is one too many, and we have been assured that county officials agree with us and are pursuing this matter aggressively. Thank you to Elections Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole and to District Attorney Faith Johnson for working so hard to ensure the integrity of our election and to combat this form of elder abuse.”

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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